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Analog design is a subcategory of Electronic Design discipline.
The process of Analog Circuit Design can cover systems ranging from complex electronic systems all the way down to the individual transistors within an integrated circuit. For simple circuits the design process can often be done by one Electronic Design Engineer without needing a planned or structured design process, but for more complex designs, teams of designers following a systematic approach with computer simulation are becoming increasingly common.
An analog design task usually involves the following stages:
- sometimes, writing the requirement specification after discussion with the customer
- writing a technical requirements or specification
- synthesising a schematic circuit diagram on paper, an abstract electrical or electronic circuit that will meet the specifications
- calculating the component values to meet the operating specifications under specified conditions
- performing simulations to verify the correctness and robustness of the design
- building a breadboard or other prototype version of the design and testing against specification
- making any alterations to the circuit to achieve the specified compliance
- choosing a method of construction as well as all the parts and materials to be used
- presenting component and layout information to layout designer and mechanical engineers, for making the prototype
- testing or type-testing a number of prototypes to ensure compliance with customer requirements
- signing and approving the final manufacturing drawings
- post-design services (obsolescence of components etc.)
The process of analog circuit design begins with the specification, which states the functionality that the finished design must provide, but does not indicate how it is to be achieved .The initial specification is basically a technically detailed description of what the customer wants the final circuit to do and can include a variety of requirements, such as what signals the circuit will receive, what signals it must create, what power supplies are required and how much power it is permitted to consume. The specification can also set some of the physical parameters that the design must meet, such as physical dimension, weight, moisture resistance, operational temperature range, vibration and mechanical shock tolerance and acceleration tolerance.
The Electronic design process involves moving from the specification at the start, to a plan that contains all the information needed to be physically constructed at the end, this normally happens by passing through a number of stages, although in very simple circuit it may be done in a single step. The process normally begins with the conversion of the specification into a block diagram of the various functions that the circuit must perform, at this stage the contents of each block are not considered, only what each block must do, this is sometimes referred to as a "high level black box" design. This approach allows the possibly very much complicated task to be broken into smaller tasks which may either by tackled in sequence or divided amongst members of a design team.
Each block is then considered in more detail, still at an abstract stage, but with a lot more focus on the details of the electronic functions to be provided. At this or later stages it is common to require a large amount of research or mathematical modeling into what is and is not feasible to achieve.
Finally the individual circuit components are chosen to carry out each function in the overall design, at this stage the physical layout and electrical connections of each component are also decided, this layout commonly taking the form of artwork for the production of a printed circuit board or Integrated circuit. This stage is typically extremely time-consuming because of the vast array of choices available.
Verification and testing
Once a circuit has been designed, it must be both verified and tested. Verification is the process of going through each stage of a design and ensuring that it will do what the specification requires it to do. This is frequently a highly mathematical process and can involve large-scale computer simulations of the design. In any complicated design it is very likely that problems will be found at this stage and may involve a large amount of the design work be redone in order to fix them.
Testing is the real-world counterpart to verification, testing involves physically building at least a prototype of the design and then checking the circuit really does do what it was designed to.
Prototyping is a means of exploring ideas before an investment is made in them. Depending on the scope of the prototype and the level of detail required, prototypes can be built at any time during the project. Sometimes they are created early in the project, during the planning and specification phase, commonly using a process known as breadboarding, that's when the need for exploration is greatest.
As analog circuit design is the process of working out the physical form that an electronic circuit will take, the result of the analog circuit design process is the instructions on how to construct the physical electronic circuit. This will normally take the form of blueprints describing the size, shape, connectors, etc in use, and artwork or CAM file for manufacturing a printed circuit board.
You may check our projects we have done in Analog Design World.
Any commercial design will normally also include an element of documentation; the precise nature of this documentation will vary according to the size and complexity of the circuit as well as the country in which it is to be used. As a minimum the documentation will normally include at least the specification and testing procedures for the design and a statement of compliance with current regulations.